Chartist aims and methods Essay Example
Chartist aims and methods Essay Example

Chartist aims and methods Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (2685 words)
  • Published: October 29, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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1. Study Source A.What can you learn from this source about Chartist aims and methods?The first thing to acknowledge is that this source, an article, was written after the Kensington incident, which, although supported an enormous amount of people and required vast numbers of security, was not a violent confrontation.The march was led by O'Connor, who was distrusted by many other Chartist leaders, but was still dominant in 1848 when he personally set out to convey to Westminster a third National Petition on April 10,when a new Chartist Convention, very different in composition from the first, met in London.

A great march from Kensington Common never reached Westminster and the Petition was laughed out in Parliament, with no division, after it was discovered that it bore many false names as signatories, including that of Queen Victoria. The word "fiasco" was subsequently used. In fact, 1848 demonstrated middle-class strength and aristocratic condescension.Source A describes one of the wagons that had been allowed through into London. The wagon was said to have carried 'delegates', who represented the Chartists, and were to put forward their petition to Parliament.There were slogans printed on various sides of the wagon, portraying the Chartist views.

On the right hand side of the wagon read, 'The Charter', which referred to the six points of the movement. These were Manhood suffrage, secret ballot, abolition of property qualifications, payment for MP's, equal electoral districts and annual parliaments. The first five points have obvious merits and, though not granted at the time, have


since become law. Annual Parliaments however, seems rather extreme, as no government would have a fair chance to shows that its policies work and frequent changes would cause instability.

One of the slogans, illustrating a Chartist view read, 'Liberty is worth dying for'. This was obviously an incitement to violence, and the view held by fiery leaders, like O'Connor and Harney.The statement 'The voice of the people is the voice of God' is a Latin expression incorporated by the Chartists in order to push for prestige and justice, for the people to be treated fairly. It's trying to say that the people are speaking on behalf of God, thus this law must be passed. The Latin expression is, 'Vox populi est Vox dei'.

The slogans show signs of rebellious opposition, 'Who would be a slave who would be free', here meaning that nobody who could be a free man would be a slave. This along with 'liberty is worth dying for', shows that some chartists thought violence and open opposition to be the answer to the suffering at the time.However, this source shows that the chartist views were ambivalent and contradictory. The fact that one of the other slogans read, 'No vote, no muskets,' indicates that even if the people don't receive the vote, they won't resort to violence.The following slogans represent the six points of 'the charter'.

The first being 'vote by ballot', enabling voters to vote as they wished without bribery or intimidation. The second, 'Annual Parliaments', where they wanted elections every year. The third, 'Universal Suffrage', which is basically a posh word for vote, saying that al

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people should be allowed to vote. Finally 'No property qualifications', here stating that working men should be able to stand for Parliament, and not only those who own property of a certain value.

Thus this source shows the various chartist aims, although it doesn't clearly show what types of methods they used, because the information is contradictory.2. Study sources A, B and C.How do these sources disagree about the best way for Chartist aims to be achieved?The main argument at the time, about the best way for Chartist aims and methods to be achieved was due to the division of leadership.

There were two main school of thoughts at the time, the peaceful, planned approach of Lovett and Attwood or the violent, hasty methods of O'Connor and Harney.Having analysed Source A, (details in question 1), we can see that this source is ambivalent. It seems to suggest that both violence and peaceful resolution are the answer, it is a contradictory source. It shows signs to an incitement of violence, 'Liberty is worth dying for', meaning freedom is worth the risk of dying, whilst at the same time argues that no matter what, the chartists won't resort to violence, 'No vote, no muskets.

' Thus source A disagrees within itself as to the Chartist methods, it is really part of both sides of the argument.Source B however, was written by the middle-class leader William Lovett. He along with Place and Roebuck shunned the idea of violence, so they persuaded their fellow Chartists to try to persuade Parliament by demonstrating the strength of public opinion. In this source, written by Lovett himself thirty years after the movement, we see that Lovett despised the idea of using violence and saw it as being ruinous for the movement, 'physical force agitation is harmful and damages the movement'. He believed that slow, planned and peaceful agitation was what was needed in order to drive their cause to success, 'education and schooling', here saying that the people need education before there can be any political opposal. The fact that he mentions ' O'Connor wants to take everything by storm', shows the lack of unity within the resistance and goes on to describe how O'Connor's method of 'hurry and haste' and use of violence, 'armed opposition', would only cause the elimination of Chartism, 'destruction of Chartism.

' This source shows how firmly on the side of peaceful practise and education some of the leaders were. Thus this source is strongly for peaceful resolution.In stark contrast, source C, written by fanatic Harney, was wholly on the side of violence and armed opposition in order to force Parliament to agree to Chartist demands. This source is from 'The Northern Star', which was a newspaper run by O'Connor, another extremist who shared Harney's view. Whereas Lovett and Attwood represented the middle-class, Harney and O'Connor were against middle-class movement and believed that it was really the working class that were suffering. Source C shows that Harney thought of the government as, 'Tyrants,' here making an intemperate use of language, in order to stir up emotions.

He uses definitive language in order to strengthen his

declaration and proclaims that they 'will' waste the land instead of suffer, 'our country a wilderness of destruction', describing the totality of it all.Harney believed that the only answer or course of action would be violence, 'no argument like the sword and the musket is unanswerable,' here totally rejecting any peaceful approach. All this language, shows Harney to be a demagogue and it may be that it was just empty rhetoric.Thus Sources B and C completely disagree about how chartist aims should be met. One is a peaceful proposal whilst the other is a much more fierce and forceful approach. Source A however shows signs of both.

3. Study sources B, C and F.Use these sources, and your own knowledge to give reasons why the Chartists disagreed about the best way to achieve their aims.The main reason Chartists disagreed about the course to take in order to succeed was due to the split in the movement between those who advocated peaceful methods, such as Lovett and Attwood and those who were prepared to use more violent methods, like Harney and O'Connor.In order to understand the situation, one must know the differences between the leaders.

Lovett and Attwood were from the South. They believed persuasion, argument and moral force would be the appropriate way of approaching Chartism. They considered political rights and action far more important than a violent forceful method. This could be due to a number of reasons.

The most important reason as to why they thought in this manner, is because they were middle-class citizens. They represented the middle-class, those who were craftsmen and skilled artisans, most of whom were educated and schooled. Lovett himself was a cabinet-maker and Attwood a banker. They aimed to put pressure on the government by massive but peaceful agitation, and the Charter itself was largely the work of Lovett.The Birmingham Political Union had been founded to agitate for the 1832 Reform Act, and it was now revived under Attwood.

Attwood believed that currency reform could benefit working men by remedying economic depression and in particular that devaluation of the currency to raise prices (inflation) would have a good effect. Although Attwood's financial ideas were confused, the B.P.U.

took an active part in Chartism. From this group came the idea of a national petition in support of the Charter.These people weren't in quite as desperate a situation as the 'working class', and were for political rights. Thus they wanted a much more cautious, rational approach.Source B agrees with this peaceful reasoning, as it was written by Lovett himself. It shows us that the leaders disagreed on the issue of violence or non-violence.

Lovett thinks that violence is 'harmful and damages the movement' and that if O'Connor was allowed to act on his preaching, then it would 'lead to the destruction of Chartism.'On the other hand, there was O'Connor and Harney. These two chartist leaders were based in the North, O'Connor in Leeds. Whereas Lovett represented middle-class artisans, they represented the proletariats, or the unskilled working class. Both were extreme, although Harney was more of a fanatic. He was often seen wearing a red cap and

carrying a dagger like Marat, the extremist from the French Revolution.

O'Connor made use of his newspaper 'The Northern Star' to spread his Chartist views, which appealed not so much to the artisans as to the great mass of unskilled workers in the North. He expressed a much greater willingness than Lovett to use violent methods, for he believed that the threat of violence would force the government to give in to their demands.O'Connor and Harney were really for food, water and basic necessities. They were fiery people who lived by their emotions.

Sources C and F agree with the view that violence was the way. Source C was written by Harney himself, thus it is very bias and that of his opinion. He uses the language of a demagogue, in order to whip up people's emotions. He proclaims that the chartists will lay waste to the land unless demands are met, 'wilderness of destruction.

' He thinks that the sword and musket are the only way they will achieve what they wish, 'no argument like the sword and the musket is unanswerable.'Although Source F seems to agree with the use of violent protest, there are signs that the author, (writing an autobiography), knew that a violent protest could be harmful and would be a serious thing indeed, 'a serious thing for a Chartist to have a gun or pike.' However the old chartist being described, bought a gun himself, 'I agreed, and bought a gun', thus it shows how people were putting Harney and O'Connor's preaching into practise.4.

Study sources E, G and HHow useful are these sources as evidence about why physical force Chartists were not successful?The main reason the physical force Chartists weren't successful was for the simple reason that the British Army at the time, under the command of Charles Napier had a far more extensive and deadly artillery than the working class chartists. They were a well-organised and efficient unit, whereas the Chartists were an array of shambles, poor working men dressed in makeshift armour.Source E is not a very useful source as the evidence is very uncertain and contradictory. It is evidence given by a witness at the trial of John Frost in 1840, the leader of the Newport rising.

Frost led an attack on the town to release a Chartist leader, Henry Vincent, from prison. Frost led a force consisting mainly of miners straight into a trap set by the authorities, who were expecting them. A small number of marksmen, hidden behind the shutters of a hotel, opened fire suddenly and effectively, dispersing the Chartists.In this case, the reason the Chartists weren't successful was because the group led by Frost was supposed to be joined by two other contingents before the attack. However there were problems of timing and of co-ordination between the groups, thus showing that the Chartists were badly organised and inefficient.The witness in Source, contradicts himself throughout the trial.

At first he says that he saw the Chartists with 'guns, sticks etc, the stick had iron points', but as the trial continues he states, 'did not see many with guns', and he goes

even further to say, 'cannot say if the mob had guns, pikes or clubs,' having just admitted to seeing them with those weapons. The witness is giving conflicting evidence and it seems that he's in a confused or scared state, as he doesn't want to side with a particular party. The fact that his name is not mentioned supports the fact that this source is unreliable, even though it is primary.Another contradiction the witness makes, is when he describes the place of firing. At first he explains that, 'I could not say where the firing began', but comes back later to say, 'likely the firing began from the Westgate Hotel.

'This source is very unreliable and not very useful. It does suggest however that not all the physical force chartists were as motivated and determined as Harney and O'Connor but were scared of what might happen to them.Source G is an autobiography by the General in command of the troops in the North, Charles Napier. The fact that this is his autobiography should indicate that the source may be bias, as he was a government official and working to keep Chartist movement under control, but reading this source and other sources, Charles Napier actually managed to establish friendly relations with the poor working class.

Charles Napier was not against the people, in fact he had sympathy for them for it upset him to see the poverty around him, 'poor people.' He calls the Chartists 'fools!' Although this may seem insulting, it indicates that they weren't wicked or violent but stupid. Stupid for thinking they could put up a physical resistance against his army, 'we have the physical force.' This source indicates that the physical force chartists had very limited resources in terms of artillery and firepower and to try and attack would cause their deaths, 'they will suffer.' The British army at the time were also the most powerful in the world. They had 'cavalry' and explosive weapons, whilst the Chartists barely had guns.

This source is reliable, as it comes from a man who, although against physical force charts, sympathised with them and wasn't bias, and it also shows us yet another reason why they were unsuccessful.Source H is a Punch cartoon, done by people from the middle and upper classes. Punch was a cartoon which depicted what the middle to upper class though on a situation. This source is incredibly bias even though it is primary, and is insulting, showing the contempt with which the upper classes looked on the working class.

The cartoon shows a picture of a working class chartist, preparing to go and fight. The artist is obviously comparing the man to the famous Don Quixote, who was rather mad. As a helmet the chartist is wearing a coalscuttle, far too big and heavy for his head. We also see his wife tying a washing basket around his front, to act as a shield or body armour. It looks absolutely ridiculous. He's also got a very long sword which is dangling from his knee and too big for him.

This is obviously an exaggerated source, but it does show

how poorly equipped the chartists were and that the middle-classes thought them to be fools.